Stow on the Wold Methodist Church
Bicentenary Hymn for Stow
Written and sung by Graham Simms
Now our church has reached 200
We are here to celebrate
May you all enjoy this service
I guess someone has baked the cake
Peter Hancock is our chairman
We thank him for his help today
I’m sure his talk will reassure us
He has a very special way.
Now it’s time to thank our preachers
So many of them have passed this way
Our thoughts are with the ones in heaven
We bless them on this special day
We thank our superintendent Soba
For his efforts at this time
We hope today will give him pleasure
And all the helpers down the line
Thanks to Martha for her playing
And all the singers here today
It’s nice to see the church sides bulging
On this very special day
At stow we’ve seen so many changes
Both at this church and in the square
May the love that’s kept us going
Be with the churches everywhere
Many thanks to those who travelled
From many places around the globe
May this day be full of pleasure
Happy memories on the road.
A Brief History of Stow Methodist Church
a background of its formation -
Any history of Stow Methodist Church over two centuries must show the personalities, beliefs and influence that gave the background for its formation.
The origin of Stow church lies in the Quaker movement of the 16th century. In 1739 new enthusiastic, charismatic preachers George Whitfield and John and Charles Wesley set out in Gloucestershire and started fiery preaching to great crowds of the poor and excluded folks of the industrial revolution and sustained them.
They gave the comfort of salvation through the repentance of sins; John Wesley’s conversion through faith was celebrated by the frequent taking of communion and became the basis of new sect called Methodists because of their strict practices.
John Wesley was a great organiser of the movement and setup a system of local units called circuits with a central conference. New chapels were set up with music and Charles Wesley’s fervent hymns. The new dissenting sect spread rapidly with moral effect on society at large through its youth, women’s organisations and Sunday schools. It supported social reforms on slavery and prisons. It influenced the trade union and socialist movements while remaining firm in the support for the central government. It is now the basis of a worldwide association with over 70 million followers and part of the wider evangelical movement.
Sunday schools were an important source of social stability and favoured by employers because they encouraged working people to be disciplined. Journals and magazines of the era remarked:
“The teachers bestow their labour gratis… the children are taught to read and write and to be diligent and industrious, to behave with respect to their superiors … to avoid lying, stealing and speaking vain words and to be true and just in all their dealings.”
“Sunday is for the working man more than a day of rest and devotion but an opportunity; they are real fields of mental activity”
On the loyalty of Methodist societies “they are uncontaminated with the spirit of insubordination and violence”;
about their mission, it reported: “we proclaim loudly and earnestly ... for the Lord and the King … meddle not with them that are given to change”
John Wesley preached at Stow on 28.08.1767 probably in the market square, recording in his journal “I preached to a very dull, quiet congregation”. Initially, services were held at the house of a Mr Collet in Sheep Street and the first Wesleyan chapel was built nearby in 1814 which was extended and enlarged to its present form in 1865. Originally, the church was in the Witney Circuit. In 1868 the tower and the front porch were added and the front wall altered, using part of the front garden.